Illini Travel to No. 18 Purdue This Weekend
April 12, 2012
Illini Line Drives
Hartleb Zeroes in on 200th Win: Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb heads into the Purdue series with 199 career wins as the leader of the Illini, as he has averaged just over 30 wins per year. He recorded his 100th win against Akron on March 14, 2009.
Johnson Silences Opposing Bats: Illinois' No. 1 starter, Kevin Johnson, has been very effective in 2012, matching his highest win total for a season already with a 5-2 mark and ranking 36th in the country in wins. Johnson has won five of his last six starts.
Argo Attacks Record Book: Center fielder Willie Argo will leave Illinois with his named splashed across the record book. His most recent target was the career stolen bases record, which he broke at Illinois State on March 27 with his 84th career steal. That passed Todd Schmitke's previous record of 83, which had stood since 1982, a span of 30 years. He currently has 90 career steals, which is tied for seventh in Big Ten history with three other players. The Davenport, Iowa, native also holds Illinois' single-season steals record with 41 in 2010 and hit the second-most home runs by a freshman with 12 in 2009. See page five for a list of records to watch.
Illini Offense Starts Hot: Despite losing nearly 60 percent of its runs scored from 2011, the Illinois offense has been solid in 2012, averaging 6.8 runs and 10.5 hits per game. The team ranks 28th nationally in batting average (.306) and 38th in scoring as of April 9. It has been a balanced attack, as seven regular starters have 32 or more hits and 20 or more runs.
Young Arms Show Promise: The Illini have been bolstered by a crew of young pitchers in 2012, as true-freshmen John Kravetz and Josh Ferry made up two-thirds of Illinois' starting rotation the past three weekends. In addition, two sophomores and one redshirt-freshman have been solid in relief with Luke Joyce (4.05 ERA, 20.0 IP), Ronnie Muck (4.15 ERA, 17.1 IP), and Reid Roper (1.17 ERA, 7.2 IP) providing solid bullpen work.
Leaving 'em Stranded: Three Illini relievers have shown an exceptional ability to strand inherited runners in 2012, with Drasen Johnson, Luke Joyce and Ronnie Muck taking over on the mound with 37 runners on base and allowing only eight to score (.216). Johnson has stranded 12-of-14 inherited runners, while Joyce is 7-for-12 and Muck is 10-for-11. As a team, Illinois has stranded 67.7 percent of inherited runners (42-of-62).
Offense is Solid...Once It Gets Going: The Illini are scoring an impressive 6.8 runs per game through 31 games, largely thanks to the fact that Illinois hitters have advanced runners at a .540 rate and are hitting .355 with runners in scoring position. But the Orange and Blue have run into some trouble getting innings started as they're hitting only .260 with the bases empty and reaching base when leading off an inning 33.5 percent of the time, compared to a .349 average with runners on base.
Two Down, None to Go: Illini pitchers have been highly successful with two outs in an inning, holding opponents to a .224 average in the situation. Illinois' bullpen has been even better, allowing only 24 hits in 134 at bats (.174 average) with two outs in an inning. Drasen Johnson has forced opponents into 2-for-14 (.143) hitting with two outs, Matt Milroy is 2-for-18 (.111) as a reliever, Ronnie Muck is 3-for-22 (.136), Anthony Milazzo is 2-for-11 (.182) and Reid Roper is 0-for-6 to lead the relievers. Conversely, the Illini are hitting .301 with two outs and have 74 two-out RBIs, 40 percent of their total RBIs.
Rally on Two: Illinois' two-out hitting has been such a key that it could be seen as a predictor of success. In the Illini's 18 wins, they are hitting .356 with two outs and 63 two-out RBIs. In their 13 losses, the Orange and Blue are hitting only .208 with 11 two-out RBIs.
Take 2, They're Small: Despite having a pair of new starters up the middle in shortstop Thomas Lindauer and second baseman Reid Roper, Illinois ranks second in the nation in double plays per game with 1.29 (through Wednesday's games) behind Washington State (1.31, 38 DP, 29 G). An interesting twist on the Lindauer/Roper combination is that they both are taking courses in American Sign Language and occasionally use it to communicate on the field. First baseman Jordan Parr has finished all but five of the Illini's twin killings and leads the Big Ten with 35 double plays.
Illini Visit League-Leading Purdue
Purdue has achieved its success despite playing 25 of its first 30 games on the road, with a five-game home stand from March 27-April 1 the only games the Boilers have played at home. The Old Gold and Black was scheduled to open Alexander Field this season, but construction delays have forced Purdue to continue playing its home games at Lambert Field to this point.
The Boilers are one of the most potent offensive teams in the nation, ranking fifth in batting average (.325) through last weekend's games and 15th in scoring (7.3 runs per game). Purdue also ranks 18th in hits, 21st in triples and 26th in slugging percentage. Not to be outdone, its pitchers rank No. 45 in ERA (3.25), 11th in walks allowed (2.41 per nine innings) and 18th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.88). Purdue also is 10th nationally in double plays per game (1.14). The Boilers are a veteran squad, boasting 14 seniors and a very talented group of 12 juniors on their 35-man roster.
Series History Against Purdue
Illini Against Ranked Opponents